By JAKE COYLE, AP Entertainment Writer
CANNES, France —
The Weinstein Company’s fall slate of awards contenders will feature a glamorous Grace Kelly, a brawny Nelson Mandela and a mysterious J.D. Salinger.
Harvey Weinstein previewed some of his company’s most anticipated upcoming releases at the Cannes Film Festival on Friday. He’s made a habit of such previews, doing the same in 2012 for the Oscar-winning films “Django Unchained” and “Silver Linings Playbook.” Last year, Weinstein said, was “as good as any year at Miramax” — the first film company run by Weinstein and his brother Bob.
Nicole Kidman, a jury member at the festival, was on hand to introduce footage of “Grace of Monaco,” in which she stars as Kelly after wedding Prince Rainier III (played by Tim Roth). It looks to be the kind of grand, alluring performance that often leads to an Oscar nomination.
“She has to go to a jury meeting to hopefully decide which of my movies wins the Palme d’Or,” joked Weinstein before Kidman departed.
Weinstein has two films in competition at Cannes: the Bangkok noir “Only God Forgives” with Ryan Gosling and Kristen Scott Thomas, and the period film “The Immigrant” with Marion Cotillard and Joaquin Phoenix. He added, referring to jury head Steven Spielberg: “I’ve certainly given Steven enough money over the years.”
Weinstein also showcased the Salinger documentary, “Salinger,” which is being advertised like a kind of detective tale about the reclusive author. Weinstein made no bones about his strong interest in making a “Catcher in the Rye” film, noting that he was told by Salinger’s estate that the decades-long list of suitors begins not with him, but Elia Kazan and Mike Nichols.
The long-awaited “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” starring Idris Elba, places Mandela almost in an action film context. The South African revolutionary appeared in footage shown Friday as a muscly firebrand, with hip-hop as part of the score.
“This is not your daddy’s HBO version of Mandela,” said Weinstein. “This is the kickass version of Mandela.”
One of Weinstein’s biggest releases for this fall is “August: Osage County,” based on the acclaimed Tracy Letts play. It stars Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts. Also with Oscar ambitions is the company’s “The Butler,” from “Precious” director Lee Daniels. Forrest Whitaker plays a long-serving White House butler in a sentimental tale through history likely to draw comparisons to “Forrest Gump.”
Following the Weinstein Co.’s recent announcement that it will make a sequel to 2000’s Oscar-winning “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon,” Weinstein said he plans to make a franchise out of it. The Ang Lee film was based on a book in a series of five by Wang Dulu. Weinstein plans to make films of all of them.
Whether the fall collection of films will add up to the Oscar gold Weinstein covets remains to be seen. But Cannes has often been where he launches those aspirations. In 2011, he had at Cannes the eventual best picture winner, the French ode to silent film, “The Artist.”
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jake—coyle